tv KQED Newsroom PBS December 9, 2017 1:00am-1:31am PST
♪ hello and welcome to "kqed newsroom." i'm thuy vu. coming up on our program, state assembly speaker anthony rendon talks about changing the culture around sexual harassment in california's capitol. and the gop's tax reform plans. we'll look at their impact on your family finances and the economy. but first, in the nation's capitol, u.s. representative trent franks as stepped down over sexual harassment allegations. he is the third member of congress to resign in three days in addition to representative john conyers and senator al franken. the developments come amid a growing movement to crack down on harassment by powerful men as the nation's political and cultural divisions widen. for more perspective on this, we turn now to a veteran journalist whose career has spanned for man five decades. dan rather has interviewed
numerous presidents and reported on watershed moments in u.s. history, from the civil rights movement to the vietnam war and 9/11. now the 86-year-old former cbs anchor has built a new audience online. he has millions of fans on social media. rather also has a new book out titled "what unites us, a collection of essays on patriotism." and dan rather joins us now. mr. rather, thank you for being here. >> delighted to be with you. >> well, this week senator al franken announced he will be resigning in the wake of sexual harassment allegations. what's your response to that? >> we're at a tidal change in society, and i'm not sure every man has the message yet. but every man better get the message. i think this is, to use another metaphor, a sea change. things going forward, not everything is going to change. but with all of this attention to well-known men and the brave
women that did take guts for these women to speak up. but this has happened at the upper tier of the socioeconomic ladder, if you will. my concern is so many women at the lower edge of the socioeconomic ladder, the waitress in the diner, the woman who changes the sheets in the hotel, these women are among the most vulnerable, and it may take a while for this tidal change, as i said, to reach down to that level. but this is a time of reckoning. >> and it's a time of reckoning also in the media industry. we've seen major media figures lose their jobs, matt lauer, charlie rose. is there something within major network newsrooms that breeds that kind of behavior? >> i think somewhat is the honest answer. basically the atmosphere in newsrooms reflects the atmosphere in society as a whole, that many of the things that were taken for granted and just, quote, that's the way it was in the '60s, '70s, and '80s
are now, and rightly so, being exposed for what they were. but news tends to be 24 hours a day, seven days a week. people tend to work in close proximity to one another, and that has given opportunities for men to take advantage when they should not. >> during your time at "60 minutes," did you see instances of sexual harassment or what would now be viewed as sexual harassment? >> well, the answer is yes. did i see them? and i wish i had been quicker to speak up, and i can be faulted for that. >> what did you see? >> but i never saw anything approa approaching physical -- the ultimate physical. but did some men go around trying to snap the bras of young women? >> well, mike wallace said he had a habit of doing that. >> i can't speak to wallace individually. first of all, he's now deceased so unable to speak for himself.
look, this was not the norm, but it did happen in putting their hands on women. >> let's move on to your book, "what unites us." in it, you do make the point that patriotism takes work. you say, quote, it takes knowledge, engagement with those who are different from you, and fairness in law and opportunity. as a nation, how do you feel we're doing on that? >> well, frankly i think we're doing better than we sometimes think we are. we have so much more that unites us than divides us. we have to stop listening to those voices who, for their own partisan, political benefit, want to emphasize our divisions and think about what unites us. for example, we're united in the belief one person, one vote. now, we're not perfect in delivering on that, but overwhelmingly we believe in that. we believe in inclusion, not perfectly so. we have our racial problems. do we ever have racial problems. but patriotism is involved with
humility. you love your country, you'll die for the country, but you recognize that the country can improve, that we're not perfect. nationalism, a gospel that's being preached by many people in powerful political positions, is more about conceit and arrogance. so one wants to be careful about the difference between patriotism and nationalism. when i talk about what unites us, that's one of the things i talk about. >> but can patriotism be defined very differently by different people? for example, president trump has invoked patriotism when he talks about the travel ban, building a wall, america first. some people take issue with the nfl kneelers, saying that is unpatriotic. so is there such a thing as a unified view of what patriotism is? >> no. but we need a conversation about what patriotism is. you raised two very good points. let's take the first about the nfl and the people who kneel. dissent is a very important part
of who we are as americans. it's made us what we are as a country -- dissent. with dissent, look, i stand to the national anthem. i stand with my hand over the heart. i at least the mouth the words. i sometimes try to sing them aloud. that's what's within me. >> how do you feel about the kneelers? >> what i feel about them is i want to listen. a kneeler can be a patriot. some patriots stand. some kneel. i'm not saying that everybody would agree with those who kneel, but they're trying to call attention to racial injustice, specifically as they see it with law enforcement. we need to have a conversation about that. the idea that they are somehow against the u.s. military, not patriotic, this is an old political technique. it's been used against dissenters since the beginning of the country. for example, those women in the 19th century who wanted to get the right to vote for women were called unpatriotic. they were called socialists, even communists, but they were on the right side of the issue.
so we always need to consider what it is the dissenters are saying. so rather than cast aspersions on them, i'm prepared to listen to what they have to say and make a decision of whether i agree with it or not. >> you've interviewed every president since eisenhower. how would you describe the presidency today compared to other presidents that you have covered? >> well, i'm glad you asked because this is unprecedented. this is not normal. there's an effort to get us to believe, well, this is sort of in the norm. no. this is not normal. increasingly i find people who see what president trump is doing and just say, listen, we are better than this, and we know this. one example. no president in the history of the country, particularly a first-term, beginning president, has been so much attacking american institutions. he's attacked the institution of generalism. he's attacked the judicial.
we've never had a president this way. even president nixon, who had some tendency in this direction, was not this way. president trump's whole being, his whole way of operating, is to never apologize, never try to explain. attack, attack, attack. and this is unprecedented in american history. >> president trump has made much of fake news, right? you are -- and many of us in journalism, even us here at kqed have been approached by difference forces trying to perpetrate fake news. you started a digital news site. how do you and your staff go about keeping journalism relevant during this very fragmented era and also, at the same time, trying to ferret out fake news and avoid being tricked? >> well, it's always a danger of being tricked, and i'm glad you mentioned the website, which is an internet site in which we're trying to do quality journalism with integrity. we try to be on the alert. we try to check things out.
there's an old journalism adage. you trust your mother, but you cut the cards, which is a way of saying you check as much as you can. but, look, those who seek to perpetrate fake news have a lot of techniques, and nobody can consider themselves absolutely impenetrable. but we do the best we can. by the way, on the subject of fake news, president trump talks a lot about fake news. he, himself, is the source of a lot of fake news. he is a fake news machine in many ways. so any news he doesn't like, he immediately calls fake news. he has to be called to account for these things. for example, he says, i had the biggest crowd for the inauguration in history. it's demonstrably untrue. it is, in his phrase, fake news. >> i have to ask you about this since we're on this topic. in 2004, you reported that former president george w. bush had received preferential treatment during the vietnam war
because of the clout of his father. there were questions about the authenticity of the documents used in that report, and you lost your job as a cbs anchor shortly thereafter. were you tricked during that time? >> no. let's see clearly what happened. the story we reported about a young george w. bush was true. fact one, his father's influence got him his so-called champagne unit of the national guard. this is a fact. fact two, after being in the national guard for a while, he disappeared for a year. you don't disappear in the u.s. military. never explained. now, to this day, neither george w. bush nor anyone close around him has denied that those things are true. realizing that we had a true story, we reported the truth, they attacked it for the process by we we got to the proof and centered on the documents. what's the purpose of journalism? journalism is to get to the truth or as close to the truth as humanly possible.
you can fault us for the process, by which you got to the truth, but don't try to call attention away from the fact. and it is a fact we reported a true story. >> let's look ahead. according to some polls many americans feel our best days are behind us. how do you feel? >> i don't believe it for one second. our best days are not behind us. my own optimism and hope, which i try to reflect in the book, is there's plenty of reason to be optimistic if we do what we need to do as citizens, which is to be informed, to be involved, to be active, to organize, and to get to the polls because ultimately if you want to change the direction of the country, change the leadership of the country, revenge is best served at the ballot box. >> well, you have been such a legendary journalist for so long. >> thank you. >> it's been our pleasure to have you here today. dan rather, author of "what unites us." >> thank you. in washington, the house and senate are working on
reconciling the differences between their tax plans. both include a big tax cut for corporations that republican leaders say will spur economic growth. but key differences remain to be ironed out on state and local tax deductions. the plan's impacts on california is uncertain for now although tech giants like apple and google may stand to gain the most. i'm joined by kqed politics and government reporter marisa lagos. and chris thornburg, the director of the center for economic forecasting at uc riverside. o welcome to you both. chris, as an economist, what do you think the impact will be of these tax plans? >> there's two sides of the impacts. there's the distributional side and the overarching impact. in terms of the overresearchiar impact, what you have is a bill that's cutting taxes more than it's cutting deductions. so on net, it's broadly stim lative.
we're not in a downturn. we're in a fully employable economy. it will heat up the economy a tiny bit but probably force the fed to raise rates. the distributional side is a little different. of course most of the cuts occurring are for capital owners. so this is going to broadly benefit the top 1%, people who own a massive amount of equity within our economy. and of course in turn, they're raising taxes on what i would call the upper middle class people who itemize deductions, things like your interest or your local taxes. these families will end up paying a little bit more, and everybody else is going to get a few hundred bucks because of the increase in the standard deduction. >> so basically the lower income class, the middle income class, they're losing, and the top earners -- >> no, actually not. i would say the bottom 80% will see a small deduction in their taxes because the standard deduction is getting raised up. the people who itemize, those kind of folks who make their money off of human capital,
doctors, lawyers, consult apts, they're going to see their taxes go up. but the top 1%, they're going to become fabulously wealthy because of a big drop in corporate taxes that's going to make their earningings that much higher. it's kind of a donut, if you will, where the 1% is taking a bunch of money for the next 15%. >> marisa, democrat governors are worried about this. mayor jerry brown calling the plans evil in the extreme, calling it basically a transfer of wealth from predominantly democratic states to predominantly republican states. when we look at this, what will be the impact on city and state government? >> i think like a lot of things in this plan, it's the longer term impacts that are more troubling. in the short term, you might see, as chris said, some people lose, some people win. but there's a few things here that i think it will hurt. we're in a housing crisis in california. part of the at least house bill is to eliminate a housing credit that is used for low income
development. that's going to hurt a lot of things already in the pipeline. then more generally as we know, what's upper middle class in another state is more middle income on the coast here in california. so i think that those are people that might get hit, and that means that when local and state governments go back maybe for tax increases in future years, the electorate might be a little bit more hostile to that. then we don't know what the outcome will be in terms of what kinds of welfare programs, other social programs the republicans then try to cut to make up for this huge deficit they're going to create in the out years. >> chris, give what we know right now, there's been a lot of talk about, you know, deductions on state, local, and property taxes. you seem to be saying that for the average california family, though, that's not going to be as big a hit. >> oh, absolutely not because, look, most californians don't itemize. so it doesn't matter to them. they're going to see an increase in their standard deduction, and that's going to lower their taxes. they're going to be better off. some of those family who have health care expenses, they're
going to be hurt. there are specific pockets. but, again, i go back to this idea that, you know, politics is really the 1% versus the next 19% and the other 80% are kind of irrelevant. this is that kind of battle between those two groups right now. and really overall, what this is, is really sticking the finger in the eye of what they would call the liberal coastal elite because there are so many programs from alternative energy tax credits just getting thrown out to even taxing tuition waivers for graduate students at universities, which was in the house plan, which is mind-boggling that you would actually do that. but it's about political payback. this is not about fixing our broken tax system because it is broken. >> but it also seems to be about giving a gift to corporations. that's a huge tax cut to 20%. >> absolutely. >> is it going to boost the economy and have the stimulating effect that the republicans claim it will?
>> it's not. here's the reason. you've got to take a step back and realize while it is true the statutory rate on corporations is 35%, the effective corporate tax rate is 21%, which is the lowest it has been in 40 years outside of recession periods. >> when you say the effective -- >> that's what they're actually paying. the problem in our system, we have a tax system that is now patronage system. we have a 35% top rate, and then your company goes out and pays a lobbyist to go and give your industry special perks. this is why companies like g.e. pay no taxes. so in a sense, as opposed to reforming the tax system to lower the overall rate but get rid of glaring loopholes to make it flatter and fairer, instead their willy-nilly cutting the taxes and going after the upper middle class along the coasts in order to pay some of that money back. it's not going to increase business spending. the relationship between effective taxes paid and actual corporate investment is there, but it's tiny and nowhere near
enough to create enough economic sort of growth to pay this back. >> we're not going to get that 6% economic growth that trum cla trump claims. >> let's talk about the political ramifications as well, marisa, because we have 14 house republicans. how did they vote on this bill, what are the pressures on them at this point to try to get some changes in there that might benefit california? >> so we had three republicans vote against this, tom mcclintock from sacramento, darrell issa from down in san diego. i'm forgetting the third. rohrabacher from orange county. these are all folks who are seen as very vulnerable or at least issa in particular. so i think that they looked at some of this stuff, the deductions for state and property taxes, the issue of course of writing off your mortgage payments, and looked at
the political leaves and went it's not in my best interest, especially for issa and rohrabacher to vote for this. now we're seeing a splintering among the other 11 members who did support it. steve knight from palmdale, for example, has asked for an increase in some of these deductions. i think that, you know, they seem confident that they can get there. i mean ultimately as chris is saying, taxes are complicated, and on an individual level, this may not hurt as much as democrats are painting it to for individual families. so i do think that there is some risk, but, you know, they're not going to feel it before next year's midterm election. >> well there's a lot of scrambling to be done over the next week or so. they want to get this to the president's desk by december 22nd before everybody goes home for the holidays. so i know that you both will be watching it. marisa lagos, and chris thornburg. >> my pleasure. turning now to sacramento where there's continuing fallout over sexual harassment allegations. this week, state assemblyman
matt dababneh was named in a formal complaint of sexual harassment. lobbyist pam lopez filed the complaint. she was on our show a few weeks ago describing what happened to her. >> i was walking into a public restroom, thought i was alone, opened the door to walk into the restroom, felt a body rush up behind me, slam and lock the door, and i spun around. and by the time i had turned around, i was face to face with a -- a sitting legislator who had unzipped his pants and exposed himself and was masturbating. and i remember thinking, oh, my god, what do i do? don't -- don't make a -- don't make a scene but be very clear that i don't want to be here. and so i said over and over again, no, i will not touch you. no, i will not touch you. >> we talked to assembly speaker anthony rendon about what he thinks should be done to change the culture at the capitol. scott shafer sat down with speaker rendon earlier. >> speaker rendon, thanks so much more coming in.
>> thank you. >> so much going on in sacramento and the country, not the least of which is the sexual harassment scandal that is sweeping not just sacramento but the country. we've seen one assemblyman resign. we've got another stepping back under some serious accusations, another state senator under investigation. how did it get to this point? >> well, it's clear that we have a crisis with respect to sexual harassment not only in our building in sacramento, but also in the culture in general. >> is it a surprise? i mean were you shocked because there's this whisper network that people talk about members and staff and who's a problem. i mean do you not hear any of those things? >> well, i did recognize when i took over the speakership, i realized our policies and procedures, for example, were outdated. they hadn't been updated in about a decade. we actually didn't have policies and procedures in the state assembly for dealing with sexual harassment in 1993. so i certainly knew we had work to do. >> one of the things that triggered all this is a letter that was sent out and signed by initially 140 women in the
capitol and people in politics. and among the people who signed that letter was your wife. what did she teach you about sexual harassment, and why did she sign that letter? >> she talked to me a lot about things that she has experienced herself in the capitol, but also things -- >> at the capitol? >> well, in the capitol community. i don't know specifically if they were in the building. she talked about things that she'd experienced but also experiences that other women have communicated to her as well. >> is this something -- a lot of times women need to bring the men along. did she teach you something you didn't know? >> she teaches me a lot. in general, she's always sort of informing me about different perspectives. and to a large extent, she helped to -- whereas i think i was focused on our policies and procedures and all of those types of things, she helped so sort of bring them to life by telling me sort of real stories that real people had experienced. >> matt dababneh, the assemblyman who has been accused of some really egregious things
by a lobbyist up there, pam lopez, you have not called on him to resign. why not have him resign? >> well, the allegations were made this week, were made public this week. so i appointed an independent law firm to investigate these claims. in the meantime, mr. dababneh has been relieved of his duties as banking chair, and we're going to go forward with the investigation. >> let's talk about taxes and specifically the republican tax plan making its way through congress. jerry brown the other day called it evil in the extreme. it seems to target blue states like california with relatively high taxation rates. what are your concerns about the impact that some version of that bill that ultimately gets signed could have on california? >> i was with my parents on monday night, and my dad was talking specifically about the impact 2 will have on him. my dad's a retired veteran. my parents , like a lot of retired folks, are on fixed incomes. it's anti-veteran. it's anti-student. it's anti-homeowner.
as you said, it's going to have an undue impact on california, on new jersey, on new york, on a lot of so-called blue states. >> one of the possible impacts, of course is people will no longer be able to take the state and local tax deduction on their federal returns, which essentially makes taxes in california more expensive. >> well, we have a lot of concerns. first of all, we know we're a donor state. we don't get back what we pay to the federal government, and this will just compound that. >> i want to switch gears a little bit and talk about there's always tension between republicans and democrats. but up in sacramento, it seems sometimes the tension is between the assembly and the senate, both of which are run by democrats. >> right. we talk a lot in sacramento about the divisions between democrats and republicans, and divisions between progressive democrats like myself and moderate democrats and divisions between north, south, east, west. but it's important to think about all we've accomplished. we have the five most progressive gun bills in the history of the united states came out of our legislature. the five most restrictive tobacco bills in the history of
the united states came out of our institution the past couple years. $15 minimum wage. farm worker overtime. our climate change battle. we've done a lot. >> the state senate of course is led by your counterpart kevin de leon. he has jumped into the race against dianne feinstein. you haven't made an endorsement in that race yet. do you agree with them that it's time for someone new? do we need fresh blood in the senate representing california? >> i'm not sure. i haven't talked to either candidate about the race. i obviously work with senator de leon, and he and i have accomplished quite a bit together. whether or not it's time for new blood in the u.s. senate, i'm not sure. >> different styles the two of you. >> certainly different styles for sure. >> the other race you have endorsed in is the governor's race. jerry brown, next year will be his final year. you've endorsed one of the dark horses in the race, john chiang the state treasurer who most people say doesn't have a great chance of winning. why have you endorsed him? >> first of all, john was a great member of the board of
equalization, fine comptroller who really in that position stood up to arnold schwarzenegger like nobody else did at that time. fantastic state treasurer as well. john incidentally, is a great personal friend of mine and has been for a long time. i think he would be a great governor. >> what do you think of the qualities that are needed in the next governor, and in what ways are you going to miss, if you are, jerry brown being in the governor's office? >> in terms of missing jerry brown, i hope the next governor can talk about philosophy as much as this governor. >> you're a fan of philosophy? >> my ph.d. is in political and aesthetic theory. the governor and i always talk about the fact that he reads philosophers who have been dead for 2,000 years. i tend to read living philosophers. i think the next governor is someone who has to be progressive, someone who has to really understand a lot of the struggles that everyday californians go through on a daily basis.
that's why i'm supporting john. >> and you have time to read philosophy these days? >> my wife and i always talk about the fact that no matter how busy i am, no matter how difficult things are, i read two hours a day. usually an hour in the morning, an hour at night. if there's anything i'm devoted to and religious about, it's making sure i get my reading in every day. >> i'm sure being philosophical helps in your job, speaker anthony rendon, thanks for coming in. >> thank you. and that will do it for us. for more of our coverage, go to kqed.org/newsroom. i'm thuy vu. thank you for joining us.
robert: president trump gives his full support to embattled senate candidate roy moore. i'm robert costa. politics and choices amid sexual misconduct. tonight on "washington week." >> in the coming weeks, i will be resigning as member of the united states senate. robert: minnesota senator al franken was one of three lawmakers who resigned this week amid a wave of sexual misconduct allegations. he was investigated starting in november after a radio anchor alleged he groped and forcibly kissed her. normal kratz -- democrats called for his resignation. >> we should be held to a higher